Remarks in Muskogee, Indian Territory

April 05, 1905

I cannot saw how impressed I have been, traveling through the Territory this morning. Your Territory, probably in conjunction with Oklahoma, will soon be one of the great States of this Union. I look forward to meeting your Senators and Congressmen not long hence. I earnestly hope that as you enter Statehood you will realize the immense responsibility that rests upon you. Statehood is a first class thing, if you use it right. It will be a mighty poor thing, if you don't. Successful self-government, of course, must be based upon the average quality of the citizenship. If the average citizen does his duty, you will have a good State, and you will not otherwise.

Nobody can make a good State except you yourselves. You need just the qualities in government that you need in private life. A man who is a good neighbor, a good husband, a good father, is the type of man who makes a good citizen. The person that you want to have as a neighbor is the man to whom you can tie, on whom you can count, the man who is a game man in time of trouble, but who does not seek trouble, the man who does not brag and brawl, but who makes good; the man who is decent and square in his dealings with others. That is just the type you have got to have in public life. You cannot afford to let any man represent you in public life if he is crooked. I do not care whether he is crooked on your side or not. If he will do something that is not exactly straight for your advantage, he will do it quicker for his own advantage.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Muskogee, Indian Territory Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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